Texas Fertilizer Explosion: Fatalities Confirmed

An explosion in West, Texas sent at least 170 people to hospitals and destroyed dozens of homes.
3:00 | 04/17/13

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Transcript for Texas Fertilizer Explosion: Fatalities Confirmed
This morning on world news now breaking news the giant explosion and fire in the northern Texas fertilizer plant. The blast was so intense it could be felt miles away the victims that may -- -- the heartbreak. And now the search for answers it's Thursday April 18. From ABC news. This is world news now news with -- And Diana Perez -- Morning everybody -- -- -- -- so much news we have a truly disastrous situation unfolding this morning. That's right and we want to begin this half hour with that breaking news from Texas it is a fatal explosion that happened at a fertilizer plant. This is the kind of news that nobody wants to hear especially those who live so close there -- a lot of news get to this morning. -- evacuations massive amounts of injuries fatalities confirmed this happened about 8 o'clock last night -- sent a wave of destruction across the small Texas town of west. Again at least 100 people injured. The explosion at the fertilizer plants in flames leaping into the night sky in west Texas just ninety miles north of Waco. There are reports of numerous deaths and injuries dozens of emergency crews responded to the blast roads leading to the fire were jammed with emergency vehicles. Ten buildings -- reported to be on fire including a school across the street from the plant. Officials set up a triage center on the football field at a school to treat the injured until they could be transported to area hospitals. But the concern about possible chemicals forced officials to evacuate the area and they are gathering at another school nearby the explosion could be heard and felt for miles and knocked out power to many. The plant explosion comes just days before the twentieth anniversary of the fire that ended a 51 day siege of the branch Davidian compound at Waco on April 19. 1993. State. In this story -- this morning right now concerns about ammonia fumes in the air. Half the town of west already evacuated more wins coming through this morning that could force the entire town to be evacuated is a small town. A nursing home apartment complex is up to fifty homes and potentially. Heavily heavily damaged that's the numbers could be staggering when this adds up commodity -- press conference later in the morning to give. Some of these hard numbers right now are really explosive. Situation. And we actually wanna get to Jim Ryan who had been on the scene for quite some time he told us that he is about two miles away from it. He is -- -- joining us he hasn't been able to get very much closer to that but he tells us he does. He's been able to see if he and -- been able to smell of CNN's Jim are you there. Here yeah I didn't it was -- -- -- smoke it was coming from the building that that I think people were sensing around the community just it's built like. House -- ready any building fire -- And it has that crews have been out hazardous materials experts with monitoring equipment to -- the air for the -- trees of these sort of have -- at -- Somalia that might have come from that -- so far they haven't really. Been able to detect any outside the plant that's good -- but there are still tanks inside the facility. -- inside that factory the fire is still burning firefighters had not yet been able to get inside there. So that is still a concern the concern about another explosion perhaps or by the leak out some sort -- Right there is a second tank of fertilizer we are told inside that plant we -- also been told it like as you mentioned at the the fire itself right now while burning is considered under control. But there is a very real concern that there could be another one of these massive. Explosions and -- fertilizer -- the one that remains. Still intact is that correct. Yeah that's right yeah and that that's what they're the reason is for the evacuation is going to last throughout the night -- Several square blocks around the area have been accurate essentially. A large percentage of the community has packed -- -- got -- -- I watched as people loaded up into the box of pickup -- a dozen or so. Just to get away from the scene. And Jim are seeing some video here of what seems to be extensive damage than some of the areas around the plan and you know a lot of people haven't been able to get up close a -- so we can only imagine that this is blocks and blocks away from the actual blast can you tell us some of the things that you've seen. Well seeing buildings that had their windows shattered out they were some distance -- old -- from the the factory. -- cross the freeway expect some folks who live. Get a residential neighborhoods said that -- windows were all blown out. So that the -- -- quite -- even well away from that are the factory itself. We no doubt that this this explosion actually monitored on richter -- as a smaller. -- that are actually two point one -- richter scale according to a US government efforts talk about the firefighters now we know that west Texas -- small town is made up of volunteer firefighters they've been working all night and clearly. They of one of the biggest concerns because they were in there fighting the blaze initially. And then that massive explosion now we know that -- fatalities we don't have a number attached to that. But the big concern of course is for the firefighters -- were right there. When that huge explosion as you mentioning the richter scale earthquake type explosion that was -- fifty miles away. Took place are you seeing more firefighters from other surrounding towns and the state of Texas coming into the area to help at this point. Absolutely -- -- what was she ended fact that it both direction interstate 35 from down south of Waco north -- Dallas Fort Worth that you merchants. Should be -- rushing into the area among the volunteer firefighters in that out of west. He's -- mayor of west. He was responding to the fire at the factory that was about two blocks away he said when suddenly the ground shook said his -- was pulled off. The review mirror and pick up truck was knocked -- -- he was extremely intense explosion. This eased concern for the firefighters who have not get that -- -- -- inside that building. That mayor who's a firefighter by the way anywhere double hats they are he's both he described the eight -- -- the mushroom cloud he said it looked like a nuclear bomb went off he said it just rose into the sky. And was a massive massive clouds have yet adding people wearing cowboy hats right now fighting fires that they're -- they're also the mayor this is -- town we're talking about real close knit community. -- -- -- -- we know that this is a small community 2800 people and we're hearing at least 200 of them have been injured in this blast. Have you been able to talk to when he hit any of the eyewitnesses who saw things you have people who know people who may have been hurt headed to the hospital things like that. Well I spoke with the woman who was actually inside the nursing -- she works there. They knew about the fire being view about the possibility -- coming from across -- -- just as she was starting to push a patient or -- residents of the nursing hope. -- -- dining room in a wheelchair. The explosion struck the building essentially collapsed. The woman suffered cuts and -- since I was concerned about internal injuries as well she rushed to brand. And was taken to the hospital by a pickup truck. Meanwhile ambulances were word at a gathering up over the football field -- we -- operation -- court. Now we know it at between fifty and 75 structures that were damaged among them we have a middle school we have a nursing I don't have an apartment complex there are reports that the the roof of that apartment complex may have collapsed at this point. So there's no telling how many people have been injured and perhaps killed are you hearing what the efforts are going to be overnight to make sure that everybody is safe. Well it just -- getting as many people as possible out in those neighborhoods Serb fighter fighters in this state troopers and police are folks to go way to do house by house. That's what the department of public safety is -- looking at right now we're just going through each structured. Trying to find it pretty bodies inside there in the and then they'll move on to the next what at that apartment complex we understand that this at least early -- it was on fire. The walls floors where people were trapped on the upper floors are fighters were -- -- -- to rescue those. All right Jim Ryan -- thank you very much reporting there in west Texas we also want to -- to ABC's Steve also Sami right now. Who -- in west Texas as well Steve can you hear us. Set the scene where are you what are you seeing. We -- just less net Sri -- senator -- -- field. Previous guests talked about and there were probably two dozen ambulances that were outside the tree arts center there was no you didn't guy who was being treated wouldn't we got the -- -- -- that the serious. Most serious injury had been airlifted to area hospitals. Out what they're doing right now its search and rescue and -- kick. -- to stop it there they wanted -- -- -- their fast because it event that they found anyone alive. Or any shirt. They wanted to bring them back to that -- -- center and then airlifted to hospitals as needed. I can tell you that we ran into firefighters from all across this state who have been called on this. -- white firefighter told us that she thought they were as many as 500 different units here. There are volunteers people in the neighborhood -- come. Two to help out here we talked with these you read it and -- Who lived a few miles away from the plant instead addicted -- it felt like under way. We talk with little girl who said it felt like a big rock. Hit her towel. On many people who were home at the times it was it was very very frightening -- sound in the field that that paid off belt. As the ground -- from this explosion. Firefighters here were very concerned about help shape that was built with some sort of ammonia and so. Because of that they kept every one very far back. -- miles away. From this from the center -- act of activity here. Firefighters we talked with who werder. Just -- the fire tell -- it is still burning even though it is under control and that it could still be burning for another day at least. As an unstable we were able to talk to a one -- one of our producers is able to talk to a woman whose habit she was running toward the scene and she saw people being wheeled out of this nursing home. And many of them are bandage that many more were not bandage bleeding profusely for many areas and and the worry is that people are still trying to help those who are in need but there's a problem with the air quality or at least that's what some people believe. Have you are you being kept away because of the air quality are you being kept away. Because of this fear that this other -- -- -- or is it that they're trying to get help to people and they want to keep all the and still -- people out of the west. You know we we're we're not quite sure what's happening with bed nursing home like -- that we are about 83 miles away in the air quality from what I can. -- -- And well -- on my own appears appears fine. I'm not sure you know -- of what -- -- issues are here. I'm we haven't -- Many reports in terms of you know the conditions of the people in that nursing home or in the apartment building. That was also across the street from the plant that we're told also suffered serious games. But I can't tell you that they're going through boat both buildings right now. Looking to see if there's anyone who might be trapped inside. All right Steve Wilson Sami we will come back to you thank you very much for that reporting in west Texas we want to go to Brent S rocked the CEO. We believe -- -- health care facility there near the blast site Brent tell -- there. I am tell us the name of the year organization and and where you that right now. We're whipped up Providence health -- Waco Texas. Can you explain to us how many people you've seen how many people have been arriving and in what conditions. Sure -- -- -- tonight we've seen 62 patients. One of which came and in critical condition -- the rest of home. Well we treated there are still treating for minor minor injuries ranging anywhere from cuts and abrasions. Somewhat broken -- many -- Suffering from respiratory distress obviously from chemical inhalation and so we're thankfully many of them just as -- reminded -- moderates. -- -- chemical inhalation can you explain what this chemical the ammonia an excuse for this fertilizer can do to people's lungs to their -- to their eyes. Probably not in a position to do that myself I really don't know the chemical makeup of that but you can tell from the condition there and they're. There they are having some some issues and and that's what we had so many. People from our respiratory therapy department intended to really deal with those issues and they did a marvelous job and I'm -- the doctors and nurses instead. Up from all over Providence health center have done outstanding work for our friends up north. -- the people you're -- right now Providence health center the people -- mentoring mentioning with lacerations cuts that the minor type injuries besides the one critical that you mention. Are these people who were in the town. A mile away are you treating anyone there that was actually. Working on the fire before the blast. At this point we don't have any emergency personnel. -- The hospitals no one from EMS of the fire department or police these are all just residents. The area. All right -- srac thank you so very much for joining us and good luck to you and everyone on your team this this is going to be a long morning for US as we can only imagine.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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